December 4, 2022

N’Delta: My grouse against fresh NDDC Board list —Lori-Ogbebor


•Urges Buhari to revisit choice of nominees for MD, Chairman

By Charles Kumolu

Rights activist, Chief Rita Lori-Ogbebor, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to review the fresh list of nominees for the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, board recently sent to the Senate.

She particularly urged the President to address what she described as an anomaly on the list, saying it’s fraught with injustice.

Lori-Ogbebor in a chat with Vanguard expressed doubt that the list emanated from Buhari, lamenting that the highest oil-producing ethnic group in Delta State, Itsekiri, has no representative on the proposed board.

She explained that going by the NDDC Act, it is the turn of Delta State to produce the leadership of the board, adding that the Itsekiri are rightful beneficiaries of the slot.

Her words: “Mr. President, we need justice and fair play. A list has just been released of the nominees of NDDC board. Mr President, I don’t believe this list came from you. I hold this idea very strongly because they did it before.

And I am not afraid of calling those who did it before your enemies and enemies of this country. They work for themselves and do not work for this country. Mr. President, I believe that nobody in your position will allow the list that was forwarded to the Senate.

“They did it before by sending a list of nominees to the Senate when you were away. I stood my ground in the past three years that the list forwarded to the Senate didn’t reflect equity and was not your list. For anyone to say that you brought out the new list and suddenly nominated the nominees as members of the NDDC board, I disagree. The list this time is even worse than the list we had before, which prompted me to go to court. Why am I against the present list? First, the NDDC Act clearly stated that there should be a managing director and chairman. It stated that these two positions are to be rotated in alphabetical order and oil quantum produced. I have kept quiet and Itsekiri have kept quiet all the while until now. It is the turn of Delta State to produce the leadership. And in Delta State, Urhobo and Ijaw have been running the show. They were the ones producing the managing directors and chairmen. But the Itsekiri who produce the highest quantity of oil in Delta State are left out. Is it because we are a minority?

“Now, enough is enough. That is why I am crying out that it is the turn of the Itsekiri. That is why I have been in and out of the court in the past three years. We need credible men and women to man the NDDC and the entire Niger Delta region. And I believe we would find some among the Itsekiri whose turn it is to produce the leadership of NDDC in Delta State. Everybody knows the Itsekiri man is gentle and that is the reason we have been calm for a long time about this injustice. The Itsekiri man believes in Nigeria.

“That is why we have been playing stabilising roles when others are angry. That doesn’t mean we are fools or that we cannot fight. Mr. President, it is the turn of the Itsekiri to produce the Managing Director of NDDC. The lady that was proposed as Chairman is from your kitchen cabinet. She is from Delta North where they do not suffer oil pollution or environmental degradation as Itsekiriland where oil flows everywhere. There are so many reasons the list is not your list. I ask that you revisit the list. I give no ultimatum, but only ask that you revisit the list. I also urge the Senate not to proceed with the screening until the President corrects this injustice.

‘’The NDDC is an evil institution. To weed out the evil men and bring the Niger Delta out of the doldrums is not your task alone. It is for all Nigerians because all Nigerians now see that without the Niger Delta, we are down in the hole. There is injustice in the land. Mr President, this is why I believe that nobody in your position will openly endorse the list that has been brought out. Mr President, they did it before when you were away, they rushed a list to the senate. I went to court and I have been in court for three years fighting.

“While in that court, Chief Akpabio took over and he set up a lot of interim administrations. Each one of them failed. They all clamoured for another NDDC board but you came out and said there will not be any NDDC board until there is a forensic audit. I went to court to support you.

“Mr President, there was a judgement that came out a month ago on this matter. And the judge was full of praise for me. He said I should be commended for what I did. He said technically his hands were tied but he had to do it because what I did could have been done by the governors who were the custodians of the NDDC.’’